FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) New language in an Indiana law could help save lives when people are having drug overdoses. Starting July 1, all first responders, including police officers and fire crews, could be able to carry a drug that reverses overdoses with out having any liability.
“We now have an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the United States and Indiana is unfortunately one of the states that are most greatly affected. So, we need to do a lot more,” said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.
On July 1, Zoeller wants all first responders to have the ability to prevent opioid-related overdoses. Opioid is found in heroin and some prescription drugs.
“These people literally stop breathing. They experience respiratory depression that’s so profound that we stop perfusing the brain with oxygenated blood. If you can do that in an environment where that administration comes faster, be it a police officer that’s reached the scene beforehand or the fire department, then yes absolutely, it should be done,” said Jared Crotty, Director of Clinical Services for Three Rivers Ambulance Authority.
The drug, Naloxone, also known as Narcan reverses overdoses. Paramedics and medical technicians already use it in the IV form.
“Last year, we administered Narcan about 140 times and then so far this year, we’ve administered it 39 times,” said Crotty.
First responders would use it as a nasal spray.
Lawmakers amended a 2012 Lifeline Law, which encourages young people to call 911 if someone is suffering alcohol poisoning and makes the caller immune from criminal charges related to underage drinking.
Since then, Zoeller is covering more ground, saying this will demand lawmakers and first responders’ focus for the next decade.
“This is meant to be at least in the short-term an ability to address what’s likely to be coming, which is this greater use of heroin and greater numbers of overdose,” said Zoeller.
This would not be mandatory. Instead, it would be each department’s decision.
NewsChannel 15 spoke to representatives of both the Fort Wayne Police and Fire Departments. Neither has started using it. The fire department said it’s not capable at this time.
According to emergency responders, if the person did not end up having an overdose and was given Naloxone, there would not be side effects.
This bill is on the governor’s desk, waiting to be signed.